Overcoming Tax Intimidation

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Ah, taxes – just hearing the word triggers flashbacks of struggling through word problems in math class. The idea of doing my taxes on my own always terrified me. My perspective of intimidating “grown-up things” hasn’t changed much since childhood, a recurring theme of my life. Only real adults could navigate the complicated instructions and requests for filing taxes. If I tried, I was sure the government would somehow discover I was not a “real” adult. The government would laugh at my pitiful attempt to navigate the mysterious process and call me four-eyes until I cried. That is why I have always left the burden of responsibility on my Dad.

My dad does a great job completing my entire family’s taxes. I had always been very thankful for him doing the whole process for us individually. When it was time to move out of my parent’s house, I had to start taking control of my taxes. That’s why I decided to shift the burden onto H&R Block for the next few years. Their process was as simple as dropping off a pile of papers and waiting for a call telling me they were done. Although H&R Block had never made any mistakes in the past, their services were getting more expensive every year. Many people I knew seemed to do their taxes easily with online apps and programs, making me realize I should at least TRY.

After asking around a bit, I found that TurboTax was the most recommended platform for tax filing. TurboTax also offered an “Early Bird Pricing” deal to anyone who could finish filing taxes before March 1st. I started working on my taxes in early February on a Friday night during a break in a Dungeons & Dragons game. All the introductory information was obvious; provide your name, address, etc. No surprise questions, incredibly straightforward. However, the rest of the process required additional papers I would have to gather and complete another day.

Over time, the required puzzle pieces for my taxes arrived through mail or e-mail. These are the same papers I would typically give to H&R Block. Instead, I attached them to the fridge with a magnetic clip, promising to complete the process myself before the end of February. Procrastination got the best of me, and it wasn’t until the last day of February that I decided to finish doing my taxes. Fortunately, my tax software was very user-friendly and required only iPhone photos of the necessary paperwork. To my amazement, the system recognized the printed material and properly inputted everything into the appropriate boxes. Hooray! Maybe I was a real adult after all.

Due to my limited attention span and a tendency to get overwhelmed easily, my enthusiasm eventually dwindled. All the confusing tax jargon, such as Box 14, SUI, and deductions, made me feel like I was drowning. Fortunately, I stumbled across a button that allowed me to put out the Bat Signal and request LIVE assistance from a tax expert without leaving my computer. This came at an additional cost, but I was over the entire process. POOF! A tax expert named “Mindy” appeared on my screen. She guided me through the rest of the process, backtracked, and double-checked my previous work. The entire process, from start to finish, took about 2 hours. Mindy got 5 stars from me for the kindness and heavy lifting.

Doing taxes can be intimidating. Getting started was easier than I expected. The support from the tax expert made me feel less judged or embarrassed for not knowing the answer to so many questions. Going this route cost less and also made me less dependent on the “real” adults who helped me before. Although I don’t always feel like a “real” adult all the time, receiving this merit badge was a great accomplishment. I am definitely willing to try doing my own taxes again next year!


Penny is an artist who uses her creative side and imagination to express herself. She’s now using this opportunity with ASDNext to not only do that through art, but also blogging. For much of her life, she felt like the “quirky sidekick” stereotype in a movie, always doing what others expected of her. When she was diagnosed with autism later in life, that all began to change. This news was life changing and she knew it was time to rewrite her story. She’s no longer on the sidelines of this so-called movie that is her life, she’s the director, leading-lady, or whatever other part she needs to play to figure out who she REALLY is! Every small step toward authenticity is now a victory for her in this new stage of life.

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